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Paradox of Productivity: How to Work Less and Get More Done

Refreshing escape

My mind spins and I have a hard time concentrating.

Then, my hand moves under the desk.

I pull my phone out of my pocket.

Without thinking I make a quick movement with my thumb.

Pulling down my inbox to refresh it.

I’m not expecting anything important, but my eyes are focused.

Full of excitement, like the time I unpacked a present on my 6th birthday.


New email.

A dull newsletter that I subscribed to five years ago.

Let’s have a read.

My eyes go through the words, but I have no idea what I’m reading.

I am just escaping from the tiredness.




My mind craving for distraction.




“Hey Gilbert!”

I blink my eyes and look up.

It feels like someone woke me up from a deep sleep.

Like a snap with the fingers to pull me out of my hypnosis.

A colleague stands in front of me.

After a quick talk he walks to his desk.

I smirk.

Shaking my head, I think: what am I doing?

I dunk my iPhone into my bag and say to myself: I need a break.

There is only one thing that I should be refreshing.

And it’s not my inbox.

The paradox of productivity

Often, when I want to get more done I keep on working.

Preparing a meeting while I’m bleary.

Cramming out five more emails when I’m drained.

Pushing myself to create a presentation when my creative juices are long gone.

More and more I see how this harms my productivity.

It’s time for a change of my perspective.

Resisting the temptation to keep my mind busy.

And to prioritize the art of doing nothing:

  • Gazing out of the window and letting my mind wander

  • Meeting with friends for a drink

  • Taking a walk outside and listen to Carlos Santana

  • Sleep for 10 hours

  • Watching an episode of La Casa de Papel